I’m not much of a shopper. In fact, I hate shopping, but I have some things that I bought without exactly shopping for them that qualify as “market finds”.
The first was my coffee table which isn’t a coffee table in real life, or the life it was made for. The Good X was an avid shopper any time any place and one of his favorite ways to spend Sunday mornings was to go to one of San Diego County’s largest swap meets in the parking lot of a drive-in theater in El Cajon. It was the late 80’s and, at first it was because we’d just bought a house — a crack house in City Heights — we were fixing up, and then it was just (as far as I could tell) to wander aimlessly around in the heat looking at other people’s junk.
Over time I made friends with one of the regular vendors at the swap meet — a man from Afghanistan who’d refugeed with his family when the Russians had invaded. There were other Afghani men selling at the swap meet, and after a while, I just hung out with them, sitting on a carpet in the shade of an old school bus drinking water and eating grapes and listening to them tell me stories of Afghanistan. We were all expats, at least psychologically.
But this isn’t that story.
I was still homesick for China (where I taught from 1982-83), though I’d been back three years, and from time-to-time beautiful Chinese antiques showed up at the swap meet. One of them is this. In China, in my experience, this would be a dining table for the family who sat around it on low stools. It made total sense given Chinese table customs. The only time I experienced the style directly was on Hainan Island. When it was just “us” (family) for a meal, we sat at a table like this. When it was a bigger party, they had a large “normal” table. Anyway, it’s beautiful and old and evocative to me and I love it.
I guess my OTHER “market find” (which also involves China) is a pair of Chinese scholar cabinets that suddenly showed up in my Facebook feed this past winter. They were at a local flea market that often sells stuff from estate sales on consignment. I’ve had my books on an open shelf since I moved here and that was a disaster of dust. I’d long wanted shelves with doors but… And there these were, early 20th century cabinets for books. Exactly right for me and absurdly inexpensive. I went and got them as soon as I saw them.
I guess the beautiful white dog in the photo was also a kind of “market find.”